Understanding what triggers your atrial fibrillation episodes can help keep them under control. “We are in our infancy in learning what causes and what triggers afib,” explains Mellanie True Hills, founder of the American Foundation for Women’s Health and the atrial fibrillation patient resource StopAfib.org. But paying attention to your body can help shed light on your personal triggers.
For many people what you eat or drink can be a trigger. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can bring on afib, while drinking water and staying hydrated can help prevent episodes. Alcohol and MSG can be triggers as well. Taking magnesium, potassium or calcium have also been shown to correct deficiencies and prevent afib in some people. Eating a large meal, especially late at night, can trigger vagal afib.
Physical activity can bring on afib in some people, as can bending over, sleeping on the left side or doing anything that impacts the left side of the body, which is where the heart resides.
“We are also finding that stress can bring on atrial fibrillation. When you read in the medical publications about what brings on atrial fibrillation, rarely do you see even a mention of stress. And yet, in at least half to two-thirds of the patients we’ve interviewed, stress was what brought it on for them,” explains Mellanie.
For some people, understanding their afib triggers can be essential to managing it. For others, the triggers are less clear. “For me it was really wild — I might be leaning over washing the dog or leaning over checking e-mail; at other-times I could do the same things with no problem at all. I never really knew what would trigger it,” says Mellanie.
Some common triggers
- Coffee and other types of caffeine
- Leaning or bending over
- Eating a large meal
- Sleeping on your left side
- Not enough magnesium, potassium or calcium
In any case, it is important to use all of the treatment and prevention tools available to manage your afib to avoid stroke and heart failure.
The Patient’s Perspective is a series of recorded teleconferences and articles presented by the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative and hosted by Eliz Greene. Each teleconference focuses on a specific challenge facing women with heart disease. For more information visit www.EmbraceYourHeart.com
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Eliz Greene is the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Health. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com